The Virginia Cavaliers and Boise State Broncos will have the college football world all to themselves on Friday, as their matchup serves as the first of only two FBS matchups that night to help kick off another full slate of action on Saturday.
Both teams come into the contest with records of 2-1, and neither team struggles to score points. The two programs have combined for nearly 60 points per game so far during the 2017 season, and their battle on the blue turf under the Friday night lights probably won't be much different.
Virginia at Boise State
Kickoff: Friday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN2
Spread: Boise State -12
Three Things to Watch
1. Will Rypien be rusty?
All signs are pointing to the return of Boise State starting quarterback Brett Rypien on Friday night. After missing all of last week's game against New Mexico with an undisclosed injury, the junior signal-caller returned to practice this week and looks like he'll get the nod against Virginia. When he's healthy, there's no question that the Broncos' offense is much more dangerous with Rypien under center. The silver lining in regard to his missed time was the emergence of backup quarterback and Kansas transfer Montell Cozart. He stood in admirably for Rypien and added a dual-threat element to this offense. If Rypien struggles, head coach Bryan Harsin won't be too worried about plugging Cozart back in. You might even see both on the field at the same time for a play or two just to keep the Virginia defense on its toes.
2. Can Boise State slow down the Virginia passing attack?
The Broncos, as most teams do, got into a shootout with Washington State a couple of weeks ago. Boise State couldn't hold a 41-10 fourth-quarter lead eventually falling in double overtime as the Cougars piled up 433 yards and three touchdowns through the air. Enter Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert. He's been chucking the ball all over the field so far for the Cavaliers, completing better than 66 percent of his passes with seven scores. With Rypien's effectiveness coming off of injury being a question mark, Boise State can't afford to to allow Benkert to do a whole lot of damage early if the Broncos want to avoid another high-scoring affair.
3. Will David Moa play?
The Bronco defensive tackle was arrested last weekend on charges of disturbing the peace. Head coach Bryan Harsin has said the situation will be dealt with internally, and Boise State fans are hoping that means a form of punishment that doesn't impact his status on Friday night. Moa is the best interior disruptor on the Bronco defensive line. His presence — or lack thereof — has the potential to be game-changing when it comes to pressuring Benkert.
Virginia won't fear the blue turf. The Cavaliers have a head coach in Bronco Mendenhall, who has won a couple of games against Boise State in his career, and he is quite familiar with the atmosphere at Albertsons Stadium. Virginia also has the personnel on both sides of the ball to match up with the Broncos and turn this thing into an entertaining contest. The difference in this one will be Boise State's ability to shutdown the Cavaliers' underrated trio of wide receivers. Look for Bronco cornerback Tyler Horton to make a couple of critical plays to save the game and preserve the victory for the home team.
Prediction: Boise State 34, Virginia 28
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, Bleacher Report and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.
(Top photo by Matt Riley, courtesy of Virginia's Facebook page)
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